2019 Golden Apple Recipients

Freedom Federal Credit Union SELECTS Three Harford County PUBLIC SCHOOLS Teachers to Win Golden Apple Awards

Winners Were Honored at a Reception Held on July 29, 2019

Three female teachers holding golden apple award trophies in front of Freedom banner
Freedom Federal Credit Union awards grant funds to its 2019 Golden Apple Annual Education Award recipients (L to R): Alisa Janiski, Tanya Zelwalk, and Jess Wilson.

Bel Air, MD –At a reception on Monday, July 29, Freedom Federal Credit Union honored Tanya Zelwalk, as the grand prize recipient of the Credit Union’s 2019 Golden Apple Annual Educator Award grant competition. Ms. Zelwalk, who is the Learning Together classroom teacher at North Bend Elementary School, won the top $2,000 grant for her plans to better serve her special needs students, provide additional resources to their parents, and to become certified as a children’s author. The Learning Together Program serves 3-5 year-old special needs children in an inclusive and educational setting that adapts the current pre-school curriculum to the unique needs of these young learners.

Ms. Zelwalk’s request, detailed an inspirational vision to help these young learners, who have a trying journey ahead, learn socialization, empathy, communication, behavioral, and pre-academic skills that will shape their future as older students and then as productive members of society in their adult lives.

Freedom noted that, although a record number of submissions were received this year, it was Ms. Zelwalk’s thoughtfulness and consideration for how the award could affect positive change for her students, their parents, and for her own professional development that made her application standout from the rest.

Additionally, two other recipients were awarded grants: Alisa Janiski, Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher at Church Creek and Roye-Williams Elementary schools, and Jess Wilson, Adapted Physical Education Teacher at the John Archer School. Both Ms. Janiski and Ms. Wilson will receive $500 each to fund initiatives at their respective schools.

Turning ordinary days into extraordinary opportunities for learning is Ms. Janiski’s specialty at Church Creek and Roye-Williams Elementary Schools. As a Gifted & Talented Teacher, Alisa Janiski, champions creative and memorable learning opportunities for her students.

Ms. Janiski asked Freedom to imagine walking into a classroom for a normal day at school, just to find that it has been transformed. Teachers are wearing surgical masks, desks have become operating tables, and nametags are preceded with the title, Dr.   It is now up to the students to save their patients with an exciting day of practical reading and math applications. Ms. Janiski’s Ron Clark Academy-inspired Room Transformations, allow students to experience immersive learning scenarios where they might find themselves immigrating to America at Ellis Island, surviving on a deserted island, or camping in the woods.

As the full-time Adapted Physical Education Teacher at the John Archer School in Bel Air, Ms. Jessica Wilson works with students ages three to twenty-one. All of her students have developmental disabilities, in conjunction with either a medical or physical limitation, or both.

Ms. Wilson has accepted the challenge to adapt Harford County’s Physical Education curriculum to her students’ unique needs and abilities. Like any children, the students at John Archer want to enjoy activities accessible in their community, such as miniature golf, but often need help learning the basic psychomotor skills to participate.

Ms. Wilson came to Freedom to ask for help in purchasing miniature golf equipment that could be appropriately modified to compliment the skill progression of her students as they learn to use the equipment, so that they too might enjoy the game in their youth and for years to come. When the equipment is not being used at John Archer, it will be available for use by other students with special needs around the county.

Mike MacPherson, President and CEO of Freedom Federal Credit Union, emceed the reception and congratulated the recipients on their achievement.  ”We value all of our members, and it is a special day when we can celebrate and support teachers from among our membership. They have set out to make a real and actionable difference in the lives of our Harford County youth, and it is our honor to play a part in supporting them and their ongoing initiatives.”

Jean Mantegna, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at Harford County Public Schools (HCPS), attended the reception on behalf of Dr. Sean Bulson. “The Golden Apple Award recognizes teachers who continuously seek new and meaningful ways to deliver instruction to our students. Thank you to Freedom for providing this opportunity to honor great teachers and create a positive and lasting impact in the classroom,” said Mantegna.

The annual competition is intended to support Freedom Federal Credit Union members who are employed at a Harford County school and have a creative vision for education that can only be met with community support. All applicants were asked to submit an essay demonstrating how their idea would serve their students, class, school and the Harford County community. Entries were judged by a panel of Freedom employees, board members, and community leaders.

Hits for Healthy Kids

Freedom Federal Credit Union Sponsors Hits for Healthy Kids

In Partnership with the Aberdeen IronBirds, to Benefit Pediatric Services at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health

HIts for Healthy Kids

Freedom Federal Credit Union is proud to announce a new partnership with the Aberdeen IronBirds and The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation with the launch of Hits for Healthy Kids. This season, every time an IronBirds player gets a hit during a home game, Freedom Federal Credit Union will donate $10 to benefit services for children at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH). Hits for Healthy Kids started on June 14th on opening day and will run through the end of the regular IronBirds season.

Hits for Healthy Kids is a refresh of last season’s partnership, Homeruns for Healthy Kids, which benefited services for children at the MedStar Health Bel Air Medical Campus. Freedom donated $2,600 at the end of the season to MedStar, and is looking forward to having an even bigger impact through this new initiative.

“Our partnership with Freedom Federal Credit Union amplifies the work both organizations continue to do in the community,” stated Matt Slatus, IronBirds General Manager. “As we work together on this summer’s Hits for Healthy Kids initiative, I’m confident our IronBirds will do everything they can on the field to make sure the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation benefits from our continued relationship with Freedom Federal Credit Union.”

“The IronBirds and the UM UCH represent two great Harford County institutions, and we are proud to join forces with them in an effort to support health services for Harford County youth”, stated Freedom’s President and CEO Mike MacPherson. MacPherson also serves on the Board of Directors for The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation.

With Hits for Healthy Kids, Freedom builds on its existing partnership with The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation. To date, Freedom has donated $130,000 to support initiatives to improve health services in Harford County through UM UCH.

 

About Freedom Federal Credit Union

Freedom Federal Credit Union is a community-chartered federal credit union offering consumer financial services to those who live, work, volunteer, worship, attend school, or have family in Harford County. Additionally, Freedom offers a full-line of banking services for all businesses, associations, and other organizations that are based in Harford County. Freedom has been in business since 1953 and has five locations throughout Harford County. To learn more, visit freedomfcu.org

About The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation

The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation supports the mission of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health through developing relationships with local citizens and organizations who wish to take part in the expansion and improvement of healthcare services provided in Harford County. Through the work of The Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation, the community supports their hospital through philanthropic gifts, planned giving, participation in fundraising events and volunteerism.

About The Aberdeen IronBirds

The IronBirds, short-season ‘Class-A’ affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, are owned by Harford County’s own Bill Ripken and his brother, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. Playing games at Aberdeen’s Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium since 2002, the IronBirds provide affordable family entertainment in the Upper Chesapeake region while working with community partners to better the community the team plays in. In 2019, the IronBirds will provide nearly $300,000 in charitable giving and support to Harford County-based non-profit organizations.

 

Can We Matter?

When I write, my intent is to speak about the culture of Freedom, our purpose and, if possible, to inspire. I want members and employees to know that we are more than a bank, more than a financial institution. We are a partner; striving to serve and improve the lives of those with whom we come in contact in any way possible. Yet, I look around at the world and I wonder just how much we can do. What role can we play in making our community better, safer, and can that in turn create a better world? Can saving a member money, providing a loan for that first home, educating on how to budget, or providing employment that supports a family, make a difference and set people on a better path? Can that have a positive ripple effect? Can we matter? Tough questions and a grand idea to be sure.

I don’t know if financial institutions think about that a lot. Sure, commercials will say they do. Ads will pull at your heart strings to convince you they are more, but when you look at the profits, the growth, the mergers, etc., it’s easy to question the true motivation. Obviously any business must earn enough to pay their bills, pay their employees, and so on, but how much is enough? Freedom is a not-for-profit and, as such, our obligation is to take care of the same things as any business (infrastructure, salaries, products and services, etc.), but also take earnings and give back in a variety of ways; keeping fees down or eliminating them, maintaining competitive interest rates, reinvesting in the organization and supporting our community. Our earnings do not go to pay a Board of Directors; they volunteer for that role. Earnings do not go to stockholders to make a select few wealthy; they go to the membership. The best part is that how much we can give back is directly impacted by members themselves because the more they do, the more we earn and the more we give back. Seems simple, but it’s not.

See, we don’t believe, as some other financial institutions, in selling things to members they don’t really need or want. We have all the necessary products and services as any bank or credit union, but strive to give something more; a place you can count on and trust. A place that will meet member’s needs, but also talk to them, listen to them, and help them make the most out of their finances and decisions. It would be great if the world worked more like a credit union. Where people came together to support one another, do the things they do and use the things they use every day and, as a byproduct, help others as well as themselves. Where the greater good is placed above the individual. A member’s value at Freedom is not based on how much money they have on deposit or what position they hold in life. We don’t set out to offer the best products, rates or services for a select few. Our goal is to provide the best we can for all members.

Our mission is “to be a trusted partner by creating a culture of people helping people that meets the needs of our members and the communities we serve”. So, whether you’re an employee, a member, or both, if you want more out of your credit union, do more with your credit union. You’ll get more than you realize.

Mike